how to get motivated to clean
Clutter | Simple Living

How To Get Motivated To Clean When Overwhelmed By Mess

Overwhelmed By The Mess!

Sometimes my home gets so messy that I completely shut down. It becomes a huge monumental task and so I just want to hide in the pantry with a nice cup of tea and forget about it.

The overwhelm is so real that all my motivation for keeping a somewhat tidy home goes out the window.

But, it only gets worse when you leave it. And your motivation keeps sinking lower.

However, once I finish my cup of tea and have a little grumble, I find that the following things help get me motivated to get my messy home back in order.

The secret is in starting small, focusing on completing that one task, building momentum and then the motivation grows.

Little by little it works and then I don’t feel so bad.

Here are some of the things I do to get motivated to clean my home – even when it’s become overwhelming – because trust me, I totally get it!:

Find Your Cleaning ‘Zen-zone’. And Do that First

Yes, the entire house might look like a disaster zone right now…. but we all have that one area of the home that, once organized, brings us back from the overwhelm.

When this one task has been done, it makes you feel accomplished and will motivate you to keep going.

It might be:

  • The beds being made
  • The kitchen counters clear
  • All the dishes cleaned and put away
  • The laundry room clear
  • Fresh towels
  • The living room clear of clutter
  • Your purse organized
  • Everything off the floors

I actually have two: once the beds are made and the kitchen is tidy – my overwhelm reduces greatly. So I start there.

Whatever task works for you, set a timer for 20 minutes and focus on this task (and this one alone!) until it’s completed in full.

I repeat. Ignore everything else.

By making 20 minutes your maximum time to complete the task, you will find yourself moving faster. If you need to, build in a reward once this one task is done (a coffee break?)

Completing this one task will get you motivated to keep going, so see it through to completion!

Find Your Most Dreaded Cleaning Task. And Do That Next!

A lot of people say you should ‘eat your frog’ (the task you most dread doing) first up.

I disagree.

I like to use the momentum and motivation I get from completing my first task (above) and apply it to my most dreaded!

For me, it’s the ironing pile! Oh, and the kid’s playroom. And picking up after the dog. Okay, so I have a few.

For you, it might be vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing the bathrooms or doing the laundry?

Either way, now it’s time to set your timer again for 20 minutes and focus on your most dreaded cleaning task.

You will be glad you did. Because your motivation will be climbing and your overwhelm is reducing fast!

The Basket Sweep

So, now you’re feeling quite accomplished, having done two solid cleaning tasks. Give yourself a pat on the back.

But there’s still a lot of mess around your home right? And if you stare at it for too long, it will bring your vibe back down. Fast.

So grab a bucket, box or laundry basket and your trusty timer….some loud fast music helps here too!

Set your timer for 10 minutes and pretend you’re in supermarket sweep and scoot around your home as fast as you can, collecting everything that’s out of place.

If your basket fills up, then empty it on the table and keep going until everything that is out of place has been rounded up.

Next, I like to separate all the ‘stuff’ into piles according to who is responsible for it (there are always the same repeat offenders in my home).

Issue directions/demands (or threats if required) for those responsible to come and collect their things and return them to their rightful places.

Set Up A Realistic Cleaning Routine

Yes, when you’re in the thick of your overwhelm, it can be hard to see simple solutions.

I used to clean my entire home in 2 hours once a week. And it would mostly stay that way.

Since having kids, I often feel so overwhelmed by the constant state of mess in my home.  I can’t dedicate a solid 2 hours at a time to conquer the whole house and even if I did…it just doesn’t stay clean very long – which is so unmotivating!

So, I’ve learnt to accept it. Not lower my standards (my home is still hygienic enough) but it’s no show home 99% of the time. And that’s okay.

I also shifted my cleaning routine to 20 minutes each weekday (I love to have the weekends ‘off’) and divide up my home to make sure that each task is getting done at least once per week.

For example:

Monday: Laundry, ironing and Kitchen clean

Tuesday: Wash all bed sheets & quick tidy of all bedrooms.

Wednesday: Laundry & bathrooms

Thursday: Wash all towels & dusting

Friday: Laundry & Vacuum/Mop all floors

This greatly helps with keeping the cleaning overwhelm at bay and keeps me up to date with the basics at least!

Find a simple and realistic routine that will work well for your stage of life right now and stop beating yourself up about not ‘maintaining a show home’!


Declutter….but slowly!

It’s no secret that clutter in your home is a huge motivation killer. But to tackle a complete declutter of your entire home all at once is just a crazy idea.

Section your home up into rooms and then attack the clutter one area at a time. This makes decluttering a non-overwhelming task and allows you to build momentum and motivation as you tick each area off your decluttering list.

Related Posts:

Establish Clutter Buster Habits 

Once you start working your way through a slow declutter of your home, then you don’t want to fall back into the old habits that got you into the mess to start with.

Check out these tips on how to keep the clutter from re-entering your home for good!


Additional little tips and tricks on how to spark your motivation to clean your home:

Let’s face it, there are times that we all let the mess get on top of us. But, it just doesn’t have to stay there. I hope you find the above tactics helpful. In addition, I also use these little tips as and when I need to:

  • Loud, fun music
  • Thinking of that wonderful feeling of accomplishment that I will have once my home is clean
  • Timing myself and trying to beat my own ‘personal best’ cleaning times (I know it sounds silly, but hey it works!)
  • Implementing a reward for once you’ve accomplished your cleaning (Netflix episode, cup of tea, warm bath, etc) or focusing on some much needed self-care afterwards.
  • Shifting my mindset to how grateful I am to have a home to have to clean.
  • Sharing the load and asking for help!

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